How to Become a Pest Controller (With Development Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you want to help people enjoy cleaner and healthier homes, you may make a good pest controller, sometimes called a pest control technician. Becoming a pest controller is a relatively simple process you can start after leaving high school. After securing a pest control licence, you may get a job with an established pest control company or start your own pest control business. In this article, we explain the common steps for becoming a pest controller, discuss what pest controllers do, list skills that can help you succeed and provide the average salary for pest control jobs.

How to become a pest controller

Knowing how to become a pest controller can help you prepare for this career. Here are the common steps you can follow to become a pest controller:

1. Complete at least year 10 of high school

Completing high school to Year 10 is the minimum qualification for a vocational qualification in pest control. These qualifications are the educational prerequisite for most pest control licences. Some aspiring pest controllers choose to complete Year 12 to earn their secondary school certificate. This is optional, but may help you distinguish yourself from other job candidates. You can study any subjects you like in high school to qualify for a vocational qualification.

2. Study pest control at TAFE or similar

Enrol in a relevant pest control course at a registered training organisation, such as TAFE. Most pest control courses have electives. Choose subjects that reflect the type of pest control you're interested in, such as controlling timber pests or fumigating. Here are the most common vocational qualifications for pest controllers:

  • Certificate II or III in Asset Maintenance (Pest Management – Technical)

  • Certificate III in Pest Control

  • Certificate III in Pest Management

  • Certificate III in Urban Pest Management

  • Certificate III in Rural and Environmental Pest Management

Related: Vocational Training: Definition and Different Types

3. Get a pest control licence

A pest control or pest management licence lets you legally perform pest control duties in most states and territories. You may need a special licence class for some duties, such as timber pest management. Successful completion of a pest control course is a requirement for full licences. Some locations have special licences for trainees supervised by full licence holders. Where available, you can get one of these licences while you are studying, then upgrade to a full licence once you complete your course. Here are the pest control licences for each state and territory:

  • New South Wales: pest management technician and fumigation licences from NSW Environment Protection Authority

  • Australian Capital Territory: no full licence requirement, although trainees receive permits from Access Canberra and pest controllers contact Access Canberra for Environmental Authorisation

  • Victoria: trainee or technician pest control licences from Victoria's Department of Health

  • Queensland: pest management technician licence from Queensland Health

  • South Australia: full or limited pest management technician licences from SA Health

  • Northern Territory: pest management technician licence from the Northern Territory's Department of Health

  • Western Australia: provisional and full pest management technician licence from Western Australia's Department of Health

Renew your licence every one to five years, depending on your location and selected licence term. Issuing bodies may ask for extra documents, such as a new photograph and medical examination form, with your licence renewal. States and territories have reciprocal arrangements that recognise the education and licences of pest controllers in other parts of the country. If you relocate or perform pest control duties in another state or territory, contact its issuing body for the relevant licence.

4. Apply for pest control jobs

If you have a full pest control licence, or plan to get one, you can start applying for jobs with pest control companies. Securing your first pest control job lets you start building experience eliminating pests. As you gain experience you may get more responsibility inspecting properties and identifying pest issues. Passing medical and police checks are common requirements for pest controllers.

5. Study for additional qualifications

Gaining additional qualifications can help you progress in your career as a pest controller. For example, getting a Certificate III in Rural and Environmental Pest Management may help you secure a job in a country area if you have performed mostly city jobs. Completing a fumigation training course can teach you this advanced skill.

6. Seek accreditation

Accreditation is optional but may help you secure a senior role or pest control job with some businesses. For example, if you regularly treat termites you may get Kordon accreditation. Only accredited Kordon installers can install the company's termite barrier system.

7. Starting your own pest control business

Once you have been a pest controller for several years, you could consider starting your own business. Starting your own business may require a separate licence, such as the pest controller licence issued in South Australia. In other locations, you may only need to notify the Department of Health and Australian Tax Office of your new business. Before launching the business, you may like to pursue extra study to learn business management skills to complement your pest control skills.

Related: Be Your Own Boss in 8 Steps

Primary duties of pest controllers

Pest controllers ensure homes and businesses are free from pests, including mice, rats, termites, cockroaches and ants. They exterminate pest infestations and perform maintenance duties to prevent pests from returning. Here are some of the common duties performed by pest controllers:

  • inspecting properties to look for signs of pest infestation and damage

  • identifying pests and the most appropriate methods for eliminating them

  • measuring the dimensions of treatment area and using calculations to estimate costs

  • preparing and submitting detailed pest reports detailing inspection findings and recommendations

  • setting baits and traps to eliminate or remove pests

  • applying pesticides in and around buildings and grounds

  • fumigating areas impacted by pests

  • installing barriers to prevent pests from entering buildings

  • designing and implementing pest prevention plans

  • identifying potential new customers

  • reminding existing customers of the importance of making pest prevention bookings

Important skills for pest controllers

Focusing on improving your skills can make you a better pest controller. Pest controllers with a variety of desirable skills can also find securing employment easier. Here are some important skills for pest controllers:

Technical pest control skills

The technical skills of pest controllers help them effectively eradicate pests. They can confidently identify a range of pests and understand the best pest control methods for different pest species. They know where to arrange traps and baits and apply pesticides to get the best results. They can also use pest dusts, baits and sprays safely. Fumigation and animal relocation are some advanced skills for pest controllers.

Customer service

Pest control is a customer-focused job, so customer service skills are essential. Pest controllers with strong customer service skills resolve to fix all pest control problems. They take the time to understand what customers need and their budgets. Their personalised solutions encourage customers to use the business again and recommend it to others.

Related: 12 Good Customer Service Examples

Self-management

Pest controllers often work independently. Good self-management skills help them stay motivated and productive. They arrive to appointments promptly and work hard to complete tasks within the allotted time. Their initiative helps them manage their daily workload and meet or exceed their employer's expectations. Using self-management skills with an employer can help you prepare for being self-employed later in your career.

Related: Self-Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Driving and navigation

Holding a full driver's licence is a common requirement for many pest controller jobs. Pest control companies want to know that you can arrive on time to appointments with clients. Businesses with company cars also want to feel confident their pest controllers can handle their vehicles safely. Consider learning to drive a manual to ensure you can operate any company car.

Written and verbal communication skills

Pest controllers use their written and verbal communication skills to interact with customers and the business. Verbal communication skills help them explain their findings and recommendations to customers. Pest controllers use accessible language to communicate clearly with customers with little to no understanding of pest control. They translate their findings and recommendations into written quotes and reports for the business and its customers.

Average salary for pest controllers

The national average salary for a pest controller is $61,505 per year. Salaries can vary depending on a pest controller's experience, including the type of pests they know how to treat and the number of years they've held a licence. For example, pest controllers with termite experience often receive above-average salaries. A pest controller's location and employer can also impact their salary.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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